Claiming that the bills were “unnecessary under existing state law,” The “Governator” of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, terminated two bills this week. The bills dealt with wage theft and were set to criminalize employers who were proven guilty of not paying wages due, paying under minimum level wages, not paying overtime wages, or who have incorrectly claimed that the workers are independent contractors. Under state law, the Governor had a deadline of September 30 to sign or veto the bills, and he chose to veto them.
The California Chamber of Commerce opposed the bills by claiming that they are “job killers.” Some supporters of the bills would say that the $3.05/ hour that workers received for working in an LA carwash might be considered a killer all right, “a people killer” as the workers, according to cases filed in the courts, have done the work but have not received the wages owed them. Supporters claimed that not passing the bills will impose an enormous burden on the workers who have been cheated out of wages, and support those employers in California who are guilty of wage theft.
According to the Los Angeles Times, “the bills were introduced in response to a UCLA study that found that wage theft costs Los Angeles County workers $26 million a week.” That works out to almost $1.4 billion a year in LA alone. This includes lost wages, but does not include the taxes lost to the City, State and the Federal Government.
This has little effect on the issue since the US Congress is likely to take up two pending bills after the midterm elections that will set a national standard for the prosecution of wage theft and misclassification issues; however, it does take California off the list of those states who have recently passed wage theft and misclassification laws as part of a national movement to protect workers.
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